Reverend Adewale Adefuye is one of the four ministers at the Ipswich International Church, an Elim Pentecostal, in Suffolk, U.K. A first class graduate of engineering of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Reverend Adefuye, in the below interview with Christian Benefits on Exploits of Nigerian Preachers in the Diaspora, shares his deep salvation encounter, his experience and growth at the Deeper Life Bible Church, his career and transfer as an accounting trainee to the U.K in 1988 by the then Oni Lasebikan & Co (a member of the Ernst & Whinney chartered accountants) to its London office, and his teenage desire to be a professor of engineering like his childhood idol, the late Prof. Ayodele Awojobi. Read the excerpts below.
Please, who is Reverend Adewale Adefuye?
Reverend Adewale Adefuye serves as a minister at Ipswich International Church, Suffolk, UK. The church is an Elim Pentecostal Movement church and one of the many founded by George Jeffreys over ninety years ago.
Briefly share with us your background, including your rebirth encounter
I was born, bred, and educated in Lagos, Nigeria. I was almost six (6) when I began my formal education. After the first six years of primary education, I spent the next five at St. Finbarr’s College, Akoka. Then, I went straight to the University of Lagos, and graduated with a first-class BSc. in civil engineering and an MSc in same.During the mandatory national service (NYSC) year, I began to think seriously about God. Why, you may ask. Well, life was moving from highly structured to unstructured. The first 22 years of my life had been structured, and I had little – apart from doing well in my exams – to do with it. My intention was to spend the compulsory service year to figure out what I would do with my life. I was given a Gideon’s Bible which I kept by my bedside. I tried to have a go at approaching God for guidance, but I didn’t know how to pray. I only knew the Lord’s Prayer. Should I pursue my heart’s desire to be a university don or seek a career in business? I was scared of making mistakes; Irredeemable mistakes. I feared looking back at my life and seeing what I could have done that I did not do. How does one navigate life successfully? I was raised in an Anglican family. Dad was a leading church figure, chairman of harvest committee, and member of various church groups. He was not only active in the local church; he was also a major contributor to the one in our ancestral village. As kids, we attended Sunday school, and I was confirmed at 17. I responded to the altar call a few times in my university days but, I guess I never understood what it was to follow Christ. I remember that of 1981 when Adeola Odusote followed me up. He was studying for an MBA after an engineering degree. It was quite fascinating that someone of that calibre was an SU (a member of the Scripture Union). Anyway, fast forward five years, I began to ponder on how to live life without regrets. A fellow corps member invited me to a meeting which I enjoyed. I went back the second time, more for the food. Looking back now, a seed must have been sown at those meetings. When National service was over, I went back home, only to discover a little complication in my affairs. My girlfriend had become an SU and the relationship could not continue in its present form. She invited me to – what I now know as – an evangelistic meeting at Medilag. A few American evangelists ministered. I was there briefly but the atmosphere never left me. I returned home but could not sleep. A statement in the New Testament kept ringing in my head – “Rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” [Mark 1:35]. It only stopped when, in the middle of the night, I knelt by my bedside and asked Jesus into my heart. It was two months past my twenty-second birthday.
Share with us how the feeling was like after you asked Jesus into your heart and your subsequent moves after this great salvation encounter
Something changed and I knew it, but I wasn’t sure it would last. Afterwards, I went into a bookstore, bought myself a Bible and began to read. The next thing was to find a church where I could grow. I don’t like half measures. I checked out a nearby Foursquare Bible Church which was decent but somehow it wasn’t ‘it’ for me. Lanre Omitogun, a neighbour and friend from the Anglican Church, had also become an SU and was attending Deeper Life. I was asked to come along with him to his new church. It was a Monday Bible study. Boy! I was completely blown away to see about six, seven thousand folks gathered in a location to study the Bible. Secondly, I was so impressed by the teaching and its handling. The confidence, copious references, and intellectual approach did it for me. The teacher seemed to know what he was talking about. I was to discover later that it wasn’t even WF Kumuyi that was teaching that night. I was stuck. Deeper Life, Gbagada was it and I wanted to be a Bible teacher.
How long have you been walking with the Lord, and how will you describe your walking with Him over the years?
This was over thirty-five years ago. I can only describe my experience in Christ as the peeling of a massive onion; countless layers of peeling. I am joyously still growing in the knowledge of God. How many times have I read and studied various topics and books of the Bible and each time I go back to them it is like it’s the first time! I am more excited today about the Kingdom of God than when I was first reborn.
Since when have you been resident in the United Kingdom (U.K), and how will you describe your experience as a Nigerian living in the U.K?
I moved to the UK in 1988 when I was transferred, as an accounting trainee, by my employers, the then Oni Lasebikan & Co (a member of the Ernst & Whinney chartered accountants), to the London office. I remember arriving in the UK a few hours before I was supposed to resume work because of the delay in processing my work visa. My first two weeks were an introduction to accountancy course with other trainees from across the UK and other parts of the world. My life revolved around work, passing my professional exams and church.
Share with us how you received the call of God into ministry, and the mandate
I like your phraseology, ‘received the call of God’ because I have come to understand that God has called everyone who is in Christ. He has called everyone who accepts His Son as Saviour and Lord. Whether it is received is something else entirely. God recognizes us, collectively, as a royal priesthood. Every follower of Christ is a priest. As soon as Jesus came into my heart, the hunger and thirst to know God for myself was kindled. Days later, I bought a Bible and began to read and study. Someone gave me a Matthew Henry Bible Commentary. As time passed, my affections and desires began to change. My desire as a teenager was to be a professor of engineering like my childhood idol, Ayodele Awojobi. That changed. I was so hungry that I devoured Matthew Henry Commentary like a text book and I got to know so much in a short period of time. I remember asking God in those early days why He was teaching me all these things. I heard His reply right in my heart, “So that you may teach my people.” At that time, I already had an MSc. As a university scholar in engineering, I was considering a PhD but that stopped.
Reverend Adewale Adefuye
Tell us about your works and activities at the Ipswich International Church, Suffolk, UK.
I am one of four ministers at the Ipswich International Church; an Elim Pentecostal church.The senior minister is Rev Harold Afflu. Together, we contribute our efforts in raising a community of faith that walks in the authority and power of Christ, making disciples who make disciples. Without boring you with the details, we began a daily one-hour early morning prayer in the church building in January 2019. It was meant to be for twenty-one days, but would you believe that it hasn’t stopped. It became more organized; folks could join remotely, and structured as we developed in-house daily devotional guides. This was before COVID. So, when the pandemic hit, moving completely online was seamless and it proved a valuable tool during the lock down. I lead eLifeClass, an interactive exploration of God’s Word in a non-threatening atmosphere and God-Wants-You-Well (Healing) classes.
Share with us some testimonies from the above activities and programmes.
One of the greatest lessons joining Ipswich International Church has taught me is the recognition that being a minister does not preclude me from personal witnessing. I realised that in the triangle of relationships–UP (relationship with God), IN (relationships with other followers of Christ and OUT (relationships with those who are yet to follow Christ)—my weakest was OUT. It was a wake-up call. So, I became intentional in meeting people and reaching out. For instance, I use a gym which I attend regularly. It’s no longer for keeping fit alone but also presents a great opportunity to share my faith and extend Jesus’ healing virtue to those in need. And I have a few stories to tell from these experiences. Another recent testimony is the publishing of a novel on prayer, The Paternoster Code, which I co-authored with a dear saint. Testimonies of healings, provisions, answers to prayers have been shared; and still being share in our early-morning prayer sessions which have been going on for over three years.
How will you describe the impact of Ipswich International Church in UK
Our priorities are: (a) Make Disciples (b) Develop Leaders (c) Grow Churches and (d) Reach Nations. How do you measure impact? By service, I suppose. During the nationwide lock down, our members were available to run errands such as collecting prescriptions and shopping for those who were house-bound. Let’s just say we contribute our bit as part of Elim Pentecostal Movement; we collaborate with other churches in Ipswich and Suffolk and do quite a number of initiatives as a local assembly. Last year, the Mayor of Ipswich was a guest in one of our Sunday services, where she acknowledged our mite.Spiritual impact? At a personal level? How do you measure that? Okay, when I share my faith with someone in the gym and they accept Jesus Christ, can I count that a plus and when they do not as a minus? I am not sure. I see it as boiling water. Boiling point is 100°C. I might have met them at 98°C and sharing with them took them to the boiling point and they invited Jesus into their heart. Many, may I say, have been helped from say 45°C to 50°C. In the words of St Paul, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” We do spread the seed. A few Christmases ago, we gave out about 200 Christmas cards where we live, opening our home for tea, biscuits, and prayers. Only a handful acknowledged. Six months later, someone who received our Christmas card rang and wanted to attend our service. But we never stop exploring ways of reaching out.
Is the Ipswich International Church an all black or a multi-racial congregation?
The demography of the congregation has changed over the decades of its existence. It is multi-generational and multi-national from twenty different nationalities. The senior leadership team is made of seven.
Who are those you look up as your mentors or role models in ministry?
Mentoring is never static. One has looked onto different mentors at different stages and phases of life. In the first two years of my re-birth, it was my pastor, William Folorunso Kumuyi and when I came to England, it was my pastor, Pre Ovia who became a major mentor in my life. Over the years, I have realised that no single individual possesses all that I need to develop and grow. I borrow and learn from many. I have been majorly influenced by what I call my Cloud of Witnesses. Their portraits adorn my office. These include Myles Munroe, Derek Prince and Chuck Missler. As part of our growth process, at least twice a year, we participate in workshops and courses to maintain our effectiveness in life and ministry.
How is it like running a church or ministry in the U.K compared to Nigeria?
Being part of a local team in the first instance and the local church being a part of Elim Pentecostal Movement have been helpful in coping with the many demands and requirements of running a church in the UK. The Movement provides vital functional support and guidance in many areas of administration and compliance. My experience in leading a church in Nigeria is probably dated. Any comparison may be unfair.
How often do you visit Nigeria, and do you plan to return home in the future?
Our visit to Nigeria is as often as necessary. I read a lot about missions and missionaries in my early days in the faith. I read of James Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, and William Carey, father of Modern Missions. You would be perfectly right if you described me as mission-minded. Home is therefore wherever I am. That’s my mentality. Ipswich is my current posting. Ipswich is home. My future posting is up to the LORD to determine. Not too long ago, I received a prophecy about a future posting but it’s too early to discuss that.
Lastly, please, tell us about wonderful family; your lovely wife and adorable children, and their respective roles in your life and ministry.
My wife of over thirty years is my most supportive encourager in life and ministry; just as I am to her in her calling. She is a physician by training. Her calling therefore is to represent the Kingdom of God in the health care sector which she does effectively, in the spirit of humility. We have two adult children.